Racial profiling or yet another media op for Al Sharpton and/or Jesse Jackson?

In this photo taken by a neighbor Thursday July 16, 2009 Henry ...

Associated Press photo

In this photo taken by a neighbor of his, Henry Louis Gates Jr., the director of Harvard University’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, is arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass., on July 16. Police say they were responding to a call of a break-in at Gates’ home, while Gates reports that his front door was stuck and that he had problems opening it. Police say that Gates was uncooperative with them (to put it mildly) and that they arrested him for disorderly conduct.

So a famous black scholar apparently was arrested when he was uncooperative with police who were responding to a call that his house was being burglarized by a couple of black men. (Gates says that his front door was stuck shut and that he asked a driver to help him get it open.)

Was it racial profiling or not?

Gates says it was.

Now, I’m a white guy. If my front door were stuck and I had to force my way into my own house, and someone had called the cops to report that he or she had seen someone breaking into my house, I might not be happy to see the cops arrive; after all, I’m no burglar and it’s my own house.

But you know, I probably would cooperate with the cops, realizing (duh!) that if they’d received a report of a break-in and found me inside, they wouldn’t know whether I were the rightful occupant of the home or whether I were a burglar. I wouldn’t attribute it to my race.

If I refused to cooperate with the cops, yelling at them and demanding to see their identification and calling them names, as Gates reportedly did, I would expect to be arrested.

Of course, the cops can’t win, can they? If they had ignored the call that Gates’ home was being broken into, wouldn’t they also have been labeled as racist?: Those racist cops just let the black guy’s house get burglarized!

“It never would have happened [to a white person] — imagine a white professor, a distinguished white professor at Harvard, walking around with a cane, going into his own house, being harassed or stopped by the police. It would never happen,” Gates huffed.

The cops “harassed” Gates? Asking him to show identification because they’ve been called to a possible burglary at his home is “harassment”?

I don’t know Gates, but my guess is that he’s a perpetual “victim,” looking to pull the race card out at every fucking opportunity.

People who cry wolf, like Gates appears to have done, make it more difficult for actual victims of racial profiling and other forms of racism and discrimination.

P.S. Of course Al Sharpton has injected himself into this; it’s what he does:  “victimhood” by proxy. But more interestingly, the Boston Herald’s website gives more details of Gates’ arrest:

A witness, 40-year-old Lucia Whalen of Malden, had alerted the cops that a man was “wedging his shoulder into the front door” at Gates’ house “as to pry the door open,” police reported.

A law enforcement source said Gates apparently had locked himself out. When Sgt. James Crowley arrived, he said Gates already was inside. But when he was asked to provide identification, Gates allegedly snapped, “No, I will not!”

Police said Gates’ front-porch tirade about racism “alarmed” passers-by drawn to the uproar outside his Cambridge home.

As Crowley tried to question him, police said Gates bellowed, “This is what happens to black men in America!”

Crowley claimed in his report he tried to calm Gates, but wrote that Gates “shouted, ‘You don’t know who [you’re] messing with!”

After calling Crowley “a racist,” according to police reports, the professor was charged with disorderly conduct and released for a $40 fee….

The 58-year-old Gates sounds like a real piece of work. Clearly, baby-boomer assholism crosses racial lines.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Racial profiling or yet another media op for Al Sharpton and/or Jesse Jackson?

  1. Danny

    For me, the question remains as to why Gates was arrested. Although there are variations in the accounts regarding the events of that day, the versions of both sides include Gates handing over ID — either his Harvard ID card or his driver’s license — and Crowley radioing the information in to confirm his identity. Gates is a 58 year old man who needs a cane to walk. He obviously presented no physical danger to either the cops or anyone in the area. His only disorderly conduct was allegedly getting uppity at the officers.

    I can see how this would be maddening to an officer. Here you are in good faith, coming out to protect this guy’s house, acting according to procedure, and getting attitude and verbal accusations of racism. But again, why was he arrested? Both sides say he complied with the request for identification, which was the whole issue at hand. So can you be arrested for being rude to an officer? For not showing due respect? For talking down to them?

    I have to say, the handful of incidents in which I have had experience with police officers, they have been nothing but courteous, respectful and helpful. But doubtless there are incidents when officers forget that they are not above the people — like every other citizen, no one is owed respect by law, and it isn’t a crime to verbally disrespect the authority or ego of an officer. We may have to comply with the orders of an officer within reason, but our freedom to express ourselves isn’t curtailed because someone has a badge and a baton.

    • robertdcrook

      Well, the bottom line is that it’s word against word. The cops have one story and Gates has another. Gates claims that he coughed up his ID rather immediately after the cops asked him for his ID. The cops say that he refused to do so.

      I would think that the cops would want to ascertain Gates’ identity if they weren’t sure whether he was a burglar or the rightful resident of the home. That someone might have a cane in his or her possession does not automatically mean that he or she is not committing a criminal act. (Dick Cheney was in a wheelchair during President Obama’s inauguration, if memory serves, and we all know what a criminal Tricky Dick is!)

      The cops say Gates that refused to cough up ID, but just started yelling about racism.

      That, to me, may or may not have been grounds to arrest him. I wasn’t there.

      People should be cooperative with the cops. That’s just common sense.

      Again, whether or not Gates deserved to be arrested I’m not sure. But I just can’t see that it was “racial profiling,” as he and his ilk have claimed.

      That the arresting officer teaches fellow officers against racial profiling and that the black police officer who was there when Gates was arrested says that the arrest was appropriate — well, I tend to believe that the arrest was appropriate, but you do bring up good points.

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